Skype’s Desktop API Lives On For Now

Skype & DevicesEarlier this year Skype announced to developers that its Desktop API was going to be killed off at the end of 2013. This is an old API exposed a number of the applications internals for use by third-party developers. It was originally offered back 2004 when building an eco-system as an important strategic move for the company.

As a practical matter, within my sphere of activity, the loss of this API basically meant that any hardware that accessed the Skype client would cease to work correctly. That includes products like the Polycom C100S USB speakerphone and the Logitech Conference Cam BCC950 as both of these devices accessed the Skype client to control hook state via the “call control buttons.”

There would be similar loss of functionality with various headsets that have hook state control. That includes cordless headset like my Plantronics Voyager Pro UC, Voyager Pro Legend and Sennheiser DW Pro2. All of these headsets use small interface apps on the host PC to provide call control via the Skype Desktop API.

The API provided a range of other functionality, like access to text chat. As I have never used anything that leveraged these additional functions I can’t speak to them directly.

As the time for the turn-off grew closer there arose cries of dismay from various people who did not want to lose the functionality of related devices or services.  Jim Courtney was a leading voice in this regard, going so far as to organize an online petition to try to persuade Skype to change its plans. TMC’s Tom Keating was also heard on the matter.

It appears that the grass-roots outcry on the issue has had some effect. On November 6th Noah Edelstein posted to the Skype Garage & Updates Blog an announcement that the company was listening, and had in fact amended their plans for the API. The company is now going to continue to support the call control and call recording functions that were the two most used aspects of the Desktop API. Third party access to chat functions will be dropped as originally planned.

According to this latest update:

“…call recording and compatibility with hardware devices – until we determine alternative options or retire the current solution.”

It’s good to see the company, that originally worked so hard to establish a third-party developer eco-system, pay attention to that communities shock and dismay about their plans. Companies like Pam Consulting can carry on supporting products like Pamela For Skype, that integrate with Skype, while working toward a new solution that meshes with Skype’s plans.

Kudos to Skype for paying attention. Congratulations to everyone who put their energy into making it happen.